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Saying that college is expensive is not only an understatement, but it’s also repetitive. One of the biggest struggles of our generation is, without a doubt, surmounting student loans. So, we try to get ahead of the problem by looking for scholarships and there a lot of them, but not all of them work out for each individual. There are certain requirements, essays, and sometimes, even interviews that make earning that scholarship money hard.

However, I often feel that there is one group of scholarships that is counted out of students’ mind on their quests for money: local scholarships. They are often for smaller amounts of money than the national scholarships, but they usually have lower application rates and higher acceptance rates.

So, here’s the lowdown on local scholarships:

1. They are not highly advertised.

National scholarships are often on the top of Google search lists. Lots of other scholarship search sites link to them but, local scholarships don’t get much publicity. Knowing this, your first line of defense is your guidance counselor. He/she will probably know all about local scholarships. If this ends up being a dead end, Google is not a bad idea. But, you should know what to search: [Your Location Name] and then, “scholarships”.

2. There are many different types.

The first type is Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) scholarships and I’m talking about your elementary, middle, and high school PTSA. All they require is that you are a member of your high school PTSA, which usually only requires a small fee to join. They usually want to see how you are committed to your school and community. They love anecdotes about your time in their schools, that showcase your love for those schools. The second type are delegate and senatorial scholarships, which are run through your local legislature. These scholarships are longer and they usually only apply for in-state colleges.

So, keep that in mind before you garner two recommendations and write a two 500-word essays. The last type is local business scholarships. These include, but are not limited to, local bank scholarships, local business owner scholarships, local foundation scholarships, etc. For local bank scholarships, they might ask you to join their bank, but the others have very normal requirements.

3. They are usually due later in the school year.

I have talked to a few people about this in different areas, so I’m fairly certain that local scholarship due dates pop up in April, May, and June. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because you don’t have to worry about submitting college applications, It’s a curse because they come up around AP and final exam times. Also, senioritis is at an all-time high during these months during senior year. Everybody’s worried about prom and making sure their final reports don’t urge colleges to rescind their offer of acceptance. So, be careful and watch out for these dates.

4. They are more personal.

Usually, the people that run these scholarships are prominent figures of your community. In fact, you probably have a friend or a friend-of-a-friend, who runs them. They are offering these scholarships because they want people in their community to succeed. So, make your application personal. Obviously, all your applications should be personal, but especially those for local scholarships. These application committees want to connect with a fellow member of their community. They want you feel not only pride, but also gratitude for all that your community has done for you. So, don’t shy away from really making your essays and short response reflect your community’s ideals and even, mannerisms.

Local scholarships are low maintenance, low reward scholarships. It’s hard to imagine how these small scholarships can make an impact. But, if you play your cards right, that $1000 there and $1500 here add up and make a substantial dent in your financial aid situation.

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